How do you become a great product manager?
It's not really a role you can study for, neither is there really a consistent path to become a product manager. In the past few years, I've seen numerous product managers with a different backstory and background prior to having a role within product management.
What I have learnt, that product management is the intersection of three skills. You don't need to be superb at each of those (often you're speciality is only in one), but you need to have a solid understanding of each of these elements. It's what I dubbed the product management triangle:
A good product drives business value. Whether that means earning revenue (the most traditional business objective) or saving people's lives (eg. a healthcare nonprofit).
You need to understand how to create business value. This often translates to properly understanding, creating and implementing a business strategy.
In my experience to date, I've noticed this is often the weakest area for a lot of product people. Looking back, I think I rolled into product management mainly because I'm interested how businesses operate and how they create value, even though I have a background as designer.
It's not just matter of creating product concepts, they also need to be implemented. In most cases, this means that a product needs to be built, whether it's software or hardware.
For this, you need to be technical to a certain degree. You need to comprehend the cost/value of particular functionality and how this affects the product.
This is why there are many product managers which originally were software developers. They understand the cost of implementation as no other.
Receiving business value as a customer is not just about functionality, it's also about creating a great experience. This is where design comes in. Whenever we experience good products, often great design is the foundation of said experience. Hence that having an eye for design and understanding the core foundations of user experience and interface design are helpful to you as a product manager.
Now, it wouldn't be a triangle if the above aspects aren't properly aligned with each other. It's impossible to be equally as gifted in each of the above fields, but it is possible to pay as much attention to both the business, technology and design while creating a product.
Spend too much attention on business objectives such as revenue and you can alienate customers (banks for example).
Spend too much attention on only technology and you can make your product difficult to use (poorly designed mobile ticketing for example).
Spend too much attention on design and you risk making a product impractical (I'd argue that high heels are a good example).
The above describes my personal view on good product management. I believe the best products consist out of a good design, with a solid technology as a foundation which provides a great experience for the customer and provides business value for the creator.
Beyond the above required knowledge, perhaps equally as important is communicating your vision to all stakeholders. Convincing people (both your teams and senior management) of your vision is perhaps, the most crucial of all.